Removing the Barriers Between Me and God - Encouragement for Today - October 31, 2018
October 31, 2018
“Listen to the word of the LORD, people of Jacob — all you families of Israel! This is what the LORD says: ‘What did your ancestors find wrong with me that led them to stray so far from me? They worshiped worthless idols, only to become worthless themselves.’” Jeremiah 2:4-5 (NLT)
It had been a busy morning, running teens to school for a pre-dawn swim practice, then trying to meet up with a friend to exercise. All before I had spent any time in God’s Word that day.
So multi-tasking during my workout, I read my Bible on my phone.
And that’s when it hit me.
Smack in the middle of reading Jeremiah 52 (the last chapter of the book), the fall of Jerusalem and tragedy experienced by one of Israel’s kings pierced my soul. Suddenly, I couldn’t help but think of how awful it must have been for King Zedekiah as he lived out his days. My eyes pooled after I read about God’s judgment on the entire nation.
Jeremiah was a faithful messenger, sent by God to speak truth to a corrupt generation. God repeatedly used Jeremiah to warn Zedekiah and his evil predecessors to change their egregious ways and stop worshipping false idols. How did they miss all those warnings? Why hadn’t they changed? I wondered.
The more I pondered it, I had to admit that sometimes, even good things can become “idols” and spiritual distractions in my life if I let them. My next thought was simply, Dear Lord, please … help me avoid those same choices, and don’t let me miss out on a relationship with You.
Jeremiah urged the rebellious Israelite kings to change their ways for decades, explaining that God’s judgment was imminent. God repeatedly warned that consequences would come from their blatant disobedience.
We see this cautionary tale woven throughout the book of Jeremiah: “Listen to the word of the LORD, people of Jacob — all you families of Israel! This is what the LORD says: ‘What did your ancestors find wrong with me that led them to stray so far from me? They worshiped worthless idols, only to become worthless themselves’” (Jeremiah 2:4-5).
Yet the kings (except Josiah) flaunted their idol worship and committed the worst of the worst sins against humanity, resulting in God having the final say. He would not be mocked and allowed Babylon to destroy the Jerusalem temple and take the majority of Israelites into exile.
Part of me thought, Surely, I’ll never need to worry about something like that happening to me. But the truth is, I can easily let an idol have its way in my life.
Idols don’t just appear as little statues hidden in our homes. Usually, they’re far more subtle. Even “good things” can take the form of an accidental idol (something replacing God’s importance) for me, if I let them.
Just that morning, I allowed my kids’ schedules to derail my uninterrupted time with God. Next, spending time with a friend seemed more valuable than sacred moments with the infinite One who unconditionally adores me.
Thankfully, there’s abundant grace in how we spend our time with God. However, I’m also committed to try and make that connection with Him happen every morning, even if it’s just reading one verse at a time. In that moment during my workout, I felt the Holy Spirit remind me how many early morning distractions I’ve let take precedence over spending time with God. Email. Social media. The dog. Breakfast. Coffee. (And that’s just the first 30 minutes of the day!)
In and of themselves, these things are morally neutral. Repeatedly allowing those distractions, however, can easily transform them into idols — things that stand between God and me.
I’m grateful His infinite mercy lets me start over every single day. God wants to spend that connecting time with me — and you — each morning. Lord, I pray You help me do just that!
Dear God, thank You for Your mercies that are new every morning. I want to keep You as a priority in my life, but I desperately need Your help. Make me keenly aware of whatever might become an idol in my life. I pray that nothing — big or small — gets in the way of my connection with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Jeremiah 15:19, “This is how the LORD responds: ‘If you return to me, I will restore you so you can continue to serve me. If you speak good words rather than worthless ones, you will be my spokesman. You must influence them; do not let them influence you!’” (NLT)
Has God ever given you an impossible task? A task that seemed so overwhelming you couldn't help but think, There's no way God would expect me to do something like this. Join us for Great and Hidden Things, a study on the book of Jeremiah, for free in the First 5 app beginning November 5! Click here to learn more.
Ready to put God first in your day? Looking to jump-start your time with God? Download the free First 5 app today.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What are some of the “subtle idols” in your life that keep you from pursuing a closer relationship with Christ?
What decision can you make today to not let anything get in the way of your commitment to keeping God as a priority? Share your thoughts in the comments.
© 2018 by Stephanie Raquel. All rights reserved.